Historical Sound Recordings

Richard Warren Jr: Preserving our Heritage of Recorded Sound

During his 45 year curatorial tenure, Richard Warren Jr. significantly expanded and enhanced Yale’s collection of cylinders, 78s, LPs, tape media, CDs, and related material, making Yale the home to one of the world’s largest and most prominent institutional repositories of recorded sound. While he worked with thousands of recordings in his lifetime, Richard nevertheless had his distinctive favorites. This often would become apparent while he was making digital transfers of original recordings, as he would pause, reflect, and comment on what touched him the most about certain renditions. During the digitization process, Richard carefully would apply the audio settings that enabled the listener to focus on the artistry captured within the recording. These digital materials, protecting the original formats from overuse and ware, would become the material of research, teaching, exhibits, and special projects.

The sound clips posted here represent some of the performers and pieces of music that Richard admired most. Unsurprisingly they especially highlight the work of renowned singers of the past, including Dame Clara Butt, Ivan Kozlovsky, Salomea Krushelnytska, Francesco Tamagno, and former Yale faculty members Helen Boatwright and Blake Stern, who are among the thousands of singers listed in the Historical Sound Recordings collection. Other selections reveal how Richard’s tastes extended broadly to include other musical genres, especially jazz and musical theater, which are also well-represented in the Yale collection. These excerpts provide but a glimpse into the extensive recorded materials available to the Yale and broader research communities to enhance our understanding of performance practice and the evolution of recorded sound.

Hear some of Richard's favorite tracks on our soundcloud playlist:

Explore more on the Yale HSR YouTube channel!